This has been a week of reviews of malts from highlands distilleries. It’s also been a week of reviews of ex-bourbon cask malts and, as it turns out, a week of reviews of 12 yo malts. On Monday I had a review of a 12 yo Teaninich bottled by the Thompson Bros.; on Wednesday I had a review of a 12 yo Glen Garioch bottled by Old Particular; today I have for you a review of a 12 yo Ardmore bottled by the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. Long-time readers of this blog know that I have a soft spot for bourbon cask Ardmore. Indeed, I’ve had a fair number of bourbon cask Ardmores in recent years that I’ve enjoyed a lot, many of those bottled by the SMWS with numbers adjacent to this one. Among those have been 66.133, 66.137 and 66.138. Granted 137 and 138 were quite a bit older but it still bodes well for this one, which is 66.139 (and 133 was also a 12 yo). I’m sorry if you’re not familiar with the SMWS’ funky bottle codes. The numbers before the period identify the distillery (Ardmore is 66) and those after the period identify the number of the release—which means this was the 139th Ardmore bottled by the SMWS (they’re well past that number now). In addition, they like to give each release a silly name. This one was dubbed “Deerstalkers and hillwalkers”. Okay, let’s see what it is like.
Ardmore 12, 2006 (59.9%; SMWS 66.139; refill bourbon hogshead; from a bottle split)
Nose: Comes in a little yeasty, with some wax and some lime zest coming up from behind. Earthier on the second sniff and then a bit of coal smoke emerges along with some tart-sweet apple and some pine. As it sits, the yeasty note subsides and now it’s a very Ardmore mix of tart-sweet fruit and mineral peat. Water pushes the coal smoke back a bit and pulls out vanilla here as well, along with some floral notes.
Palate: The coal smoke leads the way here with lemon and lemon zest coming up hard behind. Quite approachable at full strength; oily texture. Hot stones and white pepper on the second sip. Gets more earthy with each sip and there’s also more apple (more tart than sweet) and more of the mineral notes. With more time there’s more of the lemon still and some vanilla emerges to join it. There’s a slight soapy thing too now. Let’s see if water fixes it. Yes, it does: it’s gone completely now and the vanilla recedes as well; the coal smoke is still here but it’s the pepper that is now dominant.
Finish: Long. The coal smoke and cracked pepper and lemon zest keep at each other till the end. Sweeter here too with time. As on the palate with water.
Comments: Very Ardmore, very good. I could do without that faint soapy note on the palate but water does fix it.
Rating: 87 points.